The national popularity of the Colorado Buffaloes through four games is no secret.
The Buffs have played in four of the seven most-watched games of the 2023 season so far, topping out at just over ten million viewers on average for their loss to Oregon in Week 4.
But in the greater Denver market (which includes Boulder), viewership for Colorado games is hitting dizzying heights.
A Friday report issued by Nielsen indicates that through four games, Colorado games are up a stunning 626%. Last year, Colorado’s first four games averaged 55,528 viewers in Denver. This year, that number has skyrocketed up to 403,190.
Network selection plays a role in the increase. This season, through four games, Colorado has played twice on Fox, once on ABC, and once on ESPN. Last season through four games, Colorado played on ESPN once (on a Friday night), once on CBS, once on ESPN2, and once on the Pac-12 Network.
While national viewership for the Pac-12 Network isn’t traditionally available, Nielsen’s report notes that just 16,889 viewers in the Denver market watched last year’s Week 4 game with UCLA on the network. This year’s Week 4 game against Oregon averaged 405,591 viewers on ABC.
Comparing Colorado’s first four games this year to the entirety of last season isn’t an apples-to-apples measurement. So far this season, Colorado hasn’t played a game on the Pac-12 Network (which has less carriage and average viewership than the other networks the school has played on). Last year, as mentioned earlier, the team played on the Pac-12 Network in Week 4 and would play five more times on the Pac-12 Network before the season ended. Additionally, one game was on ESPNU, which seems highly unlikely to host a Colorado game this season.
Regardless of those caveats, viewership of the first four Colorado games this season is up 1,141 percent compared to the full season average in 2022. That’s a stunning number that will come down as the season goes along, if only due to the school playing on Pac-12 Network (which it will in Week 6 against Arizona State).